What Is Digital Marketing?

by Leslie Bloom - Updated May 03, 2018
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Businesses traditionally advertise through methods such as print, television, direct mail and word of mouth. Emerging technologies have opened up a whole new world of digital marketing that is vital for businesses to succeed. When creating a marketing plan for your business, digital marketing should not be ignored. As more and more people use technology to find and purchase goods and services, marketing through digital channels must be a key component of your overall marketing strategy.

What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing encompasses any marketing that is done online or through digital media. The goal of digital marketing is to increase your brand awareness as well as engage and attract potential and current customers and clients.

There are a variety of ways to incorporate digital marketing into your marketing strategy. Digital marketing for your business can include:

  • Creating a website for your business.
  • Maintaining social media pages.
  • Podcasts
  • Mobile apps.
  • Text messaging.
  • Electronic billboards.
  • E-commerce.
  • Online advertising.

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What methods you opt to use often depends on the budget you have available, as digital marketing can be an investment. While things like creating a website and social media pages are generally lower cost, it can be a big investment to develop a mobile app or do an electronic billboard display.

What Do SEM and SEO Stand For?

Your digital marketing strategy is also likely to include search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO). SEM and SEO can be vital to ensuring your business gets found online and reaches your ideal customer or client.

SEM is used to increase paid traffic to your website. Paid traffic comes from display ads, paid search and pay-per-click marketing. In essence, SEM allows you to pay to gain visibility and targeted traffic for your website, and increase customers as a result. Since you can target your ideal audience through paid advertising, you can see quick results with SEM.

SEO is used to increase organic, non-paid traffic to your website. Through targeted keywords, content publishing, links and other strategies, SEO helps drive more and better online traffic to your website. With SEO, you can appear more frequently in local and national online search results, discover what keywords customers are using to find you and strategize around which keywords bring you the most business. Seeing results from SEO can be slow, as it is a more long-term strategy to bring consistent traffic to your website.

SEM and SEO are frequently used together to create a comprehensive online marketing strategy. If you do not have in-house resources to develop and implement an online marketing strategy, you can outsource to a contractor. How much you decide to spend on online marketing depends on your budget.

Why Your Business Needs a Digital Marketing Strategy

It is no longer sufficient to rely on traditional methods of marketing to get your business seen. While they should be incorporated into your marketing plan, people expect companies to have an online presence. They want 24/7 access to information, products and customer service. The best way to do that is to have an online presence and tap into the technologies that people use today.

Developing a digital marketing strategy is important to determine what strategies will work best for your business and in your industry. Social media may be great for marketing a hair salon but not so helpful for marketing a therapy practice. You also need to know where to invest money and marketing efforts. Do you want to invest most of your marketing budget in SEM or would you rather invest a portion of it there and the rest in print advertising campaigns? Or maybe it would be useful for you to instead tape and air a weekly podcast, which is relatively inexpensive.

Digital marketing can also give you valuable insight into your customer and client base. Through your online marketing efforts, you can discover who is finding you, what pages of your website they are engaged with and what interactions results in sales. This is information that is often hard to discern through traditional marketing channels.

A digital marketing strategy helps you to build your brand and your image. It gives you a digital presence that helps you compete in a crowded and noisy marketplace that is trying to get everyone’s attention on every device they own.

About the Author

Leslie Bloom has worked in upper-level management positions in both publishing and the mental health field. In addition to years of business and management experience, she has more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of online and print publications, including Metro Magazine. She holds degrees in both journalism and law.

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